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Google Throws In The Towel On Selling The Nexus One Directly

by Sean P. Aune | May 16, 2010May 16, 2010 12:18 pm PDT

From the “color me not that surprised” department comes the news that Google is going to stop selling the Nexus One directly to consumers.  Apparently no one told Google that dealing with the public in a retail format wasn’t the easiest venture in the world.

While it seemed that Google wanted to set the cell phone market on its ear by selling phones directly, but it seems that the company was quite ready for the problems that come with such a situation.  In a blog post this past Friday, the company detailed some of the issues it ran into:

nexus one…some parts worked better than others. While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not. It’s remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from.

As I see it there were two key mistakes the company made pre-sale, and one very large one post-sale one.

Where was the advertising?  Sure we saw a note here or there on Google owned sites, but were there any ads on TV?  The Verizon Droid has been advertised into the ground, and as GigaOm points out, in the early days of the Nexus One, the Droid was out selling the Nexus One by a nine-to-one ratio.  More than likely if you are reading this post, you knew about the Nexus One, but did your next door neighbor who doesn’t read tech blogs know about it?  What about the cashier at your grocery store?  Google refers to this as a “niche channel”, but that’s because the company itself made it that way.

The second pre-sale problem was the fact it was sold for $529.    Yes, that is what cell phones usually cost, but thanks to cell carriers giving you subsidies, you never really see that price.  People just didn’t get that and it looked outrageously over-priced.

As for the post-sale problem, there was no customer support, and just like tech geeks knew about the phone, word spread quickly through the same circles that you couldn’t call Google about a problem.  I know this is their usual modus operandi, and it’s fine when you don’t pay for a service like Gmail, but if I just gave you $529, I expect to be able to pick up a phone and talk to someone about an issue.

I think Google simply thought, “We’re Google, people love us!” and went for it.  It doesn’t always work when there’s money involved folks.

What say you?  Where/how did Google mess up?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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